Homily on the 3rd Sunday of Easter Reading Year A 2020
Zurück zur Übersicht von: 3. Sonntag der Osterzeit A
26. April 2020 - Aloisiuskolleg Bonn-Bad Godesberg
1. Unlimited fear
- Only roughly, we can imagine the fears and experiences these two disciples went through on their way to Emmaus. Because of their closeness to Jesus, they were in danger with him. We know enough other examples from history that the destruction of the leader of a movement is accompanied by a determined action of the powerful against all followers. Therefore, it seems plausible when we read about the disciples hiding together in apartments after Good Friday, where they hoped not to be found.
- If I begin to imagine this, then an essential part of this fear is the incalculable, the indeterminate nature of the situation.
- At first it is the fear that this or that will happen. But then it becomes clear that I do not know how long the threat will last. Can we get out after a week, does it take weeks, months or until the end of my life that we are threatened by what is lurking out there?
- There is another phenomenon that corresponds to this temporal separation: In the beginning, perhaps it was a single, specific group through which the threat came; the scribes and the high priests sought Jesus and persecuted and executed him, now they are also after us. But here too the experience is that fear is growing because the boundaries are blurring, I no longer know whether the threat can be limited to this or that group who are out to kill us, or whether ultimately all the inhabitants of Jerusalem are working with them and are a potential danger to us.
- In the Gospel of Luke, there is the memory of two of these disciples who break out of the imprisoned threat and go away.
These two are described in more detail than anywhere else about the path God is walking with them so that they can overcome fear and understand the presence of the Risen One. When they return to Jerusalem in the end, they face the threat. They do so out of the trust that the presence of the Risen One will embrace everything that had previously only been fear.
2. Fear of nothingness
- In dealing with the threat of a virus, we are currently collectively experiencing the situation of how much fear it causes when I do not know when it will be over.
As if summarised in a caricature, we find this in the press conferences of the US President. Again and again he describes great, final solutions. That they are all too often absurd is almost irrelevant. For his audience they are doing their best to draw a line under their fear. Look, he shouts, this is the solution; it will come soon! Apart from the fact that the solution he presents is none, this instrument will probably be used up if something new is brought up every day. But even the enemy images that he alternatively brings up have the function. They can draw a line to a threat that has no 'limit', so that fear does not existentially become fear in the face of nothingness.
- The hope of the rest of humanity in the affluent countries rests on finding a vaccine that will enable us to contain the pandemic. This is even a reasonably realistic scenario. Otherwise, we would probably not be able to deal with the fear that the threat triggers in us.
- In doing so, we could learn what it means to have no perspective from millions of people around the world. Millions of people know for their whole lives the experience that they only try to get something to eat every day, but the promise of freedom and security does not apply to them. They are presented with a perspective in telenovelas or by Bollywood, but this promise does not apply to them.
3. He goes with them
- This is the context in which we should ask ourselves what the promise of the Risen One is.
The Gospel of Luke describes him as one who patiently walks with the two. He asks about their fear. He listens to them. Then, gently, he reminds them of the sources they know and reveals to them the meaning of the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament. He reminds them that there suffering is not ignored and the threat is not minimized. Imperceptibly, he leads them on the path of recognizing him, him the risen from the death on the cross. He does not overwhelm them. They must trust the restlessness of their hearts and urge him to remain with them - until their eyes open at the breaking of bread, the holy meal.
- All will not be well. The tradition tells of Cleopas, the disciple of Emmaus, as well as of most of the group in Jerusalem to which they return, that they will later die as martyrs. But apparently faith has caused that fear, that deadly, contourless fog, has no longer ruled their lives. They have moved towards people. They began to trust. They strengthened each other.
- I don't want to take away the hope for me and for us that the pandemic will one day be controllable if a vaccine - a matter of time, they tell us! - will be found. But I want to remind us of the wisdom of the day labourers around the world, against whose hopeless poverty no vaccine has yet been found. They can hardly hope that justice will appear on the horizon.
But they are mostly people who are less ruled by fear and less closed off than some of those who have never known such fear. The poor are usually the more hospitable. Fear is not the decisive factor; what is decisive is whether we urge God to go with us on the way. What is decisive is that we proclaim to one another the message that God reveals to us: “The Lord is truly risen!” Amen.